Oksana Masters began the 2022 Beijing Paralympics by winning the first U.S. gold medal of the Games.
Masters, a biathlete and cross-country skier, won the women’s biathlon sitting sprint, her fifth career Paralympic gold medal and 11th overall medal between Summer and Winter Games. Fellow American Kendall Gretsch took bronze, four years after winning the sitting sprint.
Masters could race up to seven times over nine days of medal competition through March 13.
She moved into a tie for third on the U.S. women’s career Winter Paralympic medal list with her eighth. Alpine skiers Sarah Will and Sarah Billmeier share the record of 13, which Masters could pass at these Games.
Masters now owns Paralympic gold medals in biathlon, cross-country skiing and cycling. She won two cycling golds at the Tokyo Games six months ago. Gretsch won triathlon gold at the Tokyo Games.
Masters, 32, was born in Ukraine with a set of birth defects believed to be caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. She bounced between orphanages for seven years before being adopted by an American single mother.
“It’s the stars and stripes 🇺🇸 that keeps my Ukrainian heart beating,” was posted on Masters’ social media before the Games. “I’ve always been proud of where I come from. And I can’t wait to race for the two countries that make me whole.”
In 2018, the U.S. topped the Winter Paralympic standings in total medals (36) and gold medals (13) for the first time since 1992.
The Winter Paralympics feature 78 medal events across six sports — Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, snowboarding, hockey and curling — with more than 700 athletes expected to compete from around the world, including 67 Americans.